Other than cheeky nods in films such as Twins, Demolition Man and Last Action Hero, the closest that we got to seeing Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger together was at Planet Hollywood openings with Bruce Willis.
This all changed in 2010 when Stallone unleashed The Expendables, an action film with a truly dream cast, combining 80s action legends with the hottest stars of today. While a guilty pleasure, it was kind of like overdosing on buffet pizza. It’s a great idea but leaves you with slight feelings of regret.
With Simon West (Con Air, Tomb Raider) taking up directorial duties for the sequel, The Expendables 2 ups the ante in every way. The plot involves Jean-Claude Van Damme becoming a plutonium-Macguffin chasing villain who enslaves a local village to work in a mine. Mr Church (Bruce Willis) once again sends Stallone’s workout buddies in to sort out / blow up the problem.
Almost everyone who survived the first film returns (with the exception of Mickey Rourke). Liam Hemsworth and Nan Yu also join the crew, alongside Schwarzenegger in an expanded role. Jet Li makes a brief appearance, and Chuck Norris provides some of the film’s biggest laughs.
The Expendables are treated to a huge army to dispatch in violently creative ways as they run through jungles, fly planes, crash cars and have high-speed river boat chases. While Jason Statham gets to ride shotgun with Stallone, the rest of the crew (Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture) fight for screen time from the backseat.
Packed with one-liners, the film merrily pokes fun at the 80s classics that inspired it, lampooning catchphrases as regularly as someone gets shot. There is a lot of corny dialogue and a bit of romance too, as Stallone tries to woo Yu. In the words of Lee Christmas (Statham): “I now pronounce you man and knife”.
As the movie progresses, the action intensifies, culminating in a fantastic old school punch-up between Stallone and the muscles from Brussels. Here is where the stars really shine, and prove that there is plenty of life in the old dogs yet.
While The Expendables 2 isn’t a “good film” in the traditional sense, as a child of the 80s, I loved every second of it. In fact, I’d quite happily watch a hundred more of them. The cast and crew are already discussing a third film, with Nicolas Cage, Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford in talks to appear.
If you love action films and tongue-in-cheek humour, The Expendables 2 is 103 minutes of explosive, mindless fun. Get to da choppa and see it!